The Liberty Gazette
April 17, 2012Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: He saunters into the lobby and waits patiently for the girl behind the desk to finish serving another customer. Wandering over by the old leather sofa in the corner of the room next to one of the glass display cases with all sorts of electronic wares inside, he spots an aeronautical chart someone left half folded amongst the scattered aviation magazines on a small coffee table. He picks it up, unfolds it, and holding it out at arms-length his eyes sweep from one corner to the other like a king or big rancher surveying his territory. In his mid-forties, a little pudgy in spots and his hair thinning a bit, the one thing that stands out as he waits patiently is the big smile on his face. Finally, the girl working behind the counter has finished with the previous customer and the man, still smiling, steps forward and says, “Hi, I’m Tim and I’m here for my first lesson.”
“Oh yes Tim, your instructor is in the hangar and he’ll be right back."
“Great! I’ve wanted to do this my whole life.”
Tim was starting out on an adventure. A long yearning has finally brought him to a point where he is ready to begin. The average private pilot today is in his or her mid-forties and having raised a family finds themselves in a place financially stable enough that they can justify the investment into something they’ve wanted to do for a long time. Tim fits the description.
When I walked in that day in 2006 and we were introduced, immediately we discovered a real kinship even though our worlds had taken very different paths. I had pursued my dream of flight early from the age of 15 and unlike an airline pilot, flying the same route for years, my career flying freight and as a chief pilot for an international corporation has taken me many different places.
This was the start of something big for Tim, and something of a journey of rediscovery for me; to see anew the stuff I forcefully remembered long ago which at some point sunk into the far recesses of my mind. Having taught flying for much of my aviation career, although mostly in jets, I was stepping back into the realm of the beginner working with unmolded but willing and passionate clay that presented with the expectation of becoming an aviator. The challenge was one well worth the effort.
Linda: Mike gave Tim a good solid start, working with him long enough to be a strong influence on the way Tim approaches flying today, with good skills and common sense. Tim successfully achieved his dream and we see him somewhat regularly at the hangar. His two grown sons are also pilots and aircraft owners and the relationship the three men share has grown into something special from this mutual interest. Besides that, we’re rather fortunate Tim decided on a Cheetah when he purchased his first plane, because then if we need to borrow parts, he’s just around the corner. Good thing his Cheetah isn’t too bashful about letting our Cheetah borrow its pants from time to time.